When it comes to updating benefit packages every October, "most people run for the hills," said Mark Germain, certified financial planner and founder and CEO of Beacon Wealth Management. "They wait until the last minute and just check off the boxes. And they don't always seek out advice, because they don't understand the options and don't know what questions to ask."
Germain recommends that employees consider these three factors:
October benefit planning is also an opportunity to link back to April 15.
"These [fall] benefit meetings with clients are a time to look at last year's tax return and see what they can do differently with benefits to help next year's taxes," said John Gugle, CFP and principal at Alpha Financial Advisors. For example:
During the annual evaluation period, find out what new perks may be available. "One unusual benefit that I'm seeing more and more is a paid sabbatical," Gugle said. "You are completely not allowed to work. I see this benefit being used to reward long-term key staff."
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Source: Chad Chubb, CFP and founder of WealthKeel
Steve Burkett, CFP with Palisade Investments, advises couples to coordinate their benefit options and take the long view.
— By Deborah Nason, special to CNBC.com